Eun Sun Kim
IMW_ARD_2019_Generalprobe Finale Cello©Daniel Delang-55.jpg

“A dynamic presence as she led, illuminating details of the score with clarity and expressive power.”

Cincinnati Business Courier



Brahms, Beethoven, Gabriella Smith

“Kim provided impeccable balance and support, and warmly shaped the tutti passages. Although Saturday was Kim’s first Cincinnati Symphony subscription appearance, the 38-year-old conductor made a memorable U.S. debut leading the Cincinnati May Festival in Verdi’s Requiem in 2018. With her star rapidly ascending in this country as well as in Europe, she was recently named principal guest conductor for Houston Grand Opera.

After intermission, the conductor conveyed the autumnal quality of Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in E Minor. From the work’s arresting opening notes, which seem to start mid-sentence, she cultivated a rich, relaxed sound in the strings. Each phrase breathed, yet she also led with momentum, knowing just the right moment to push ahead. There was much to admire, from the sonorous beauty of the second movement, with its quietly lyrical clarinet solo (Christopher Pell), to the robust intensity of the third, the closest Brahms came to an orchestral scherzo.

The conductor was a dynamic presence as she led, illuminating details of the score with clarity and expressive power. The finale, a towering passacaglia, unfolded with depth and the musicians responded with polished, refined playing.”
–Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Business Courier


Prokofiev, Grieg, Tchaikovsky

For its first concert of the 2019-2020 season, l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille welcomed two musicians whose artistries spoke for themselves. The baton was entrusted to Eun Sun Kim, guest conductor at the Cincinnati Orchestra and who is frequently engaged by many world-class opera houses.

The Norwegian concerto [Grieg’s Piano Concerto] was framed by two works from the Russian repertoire, starting with Prokofiev's Classical Symphony. This seemingly simple piece in fact requires flawless placement coupled with an underlying sense of humor... The conductor’s rhythmic determination freed the virtuosity of the ensemble in a well-defined and building finale.

The second part of the evening was devoted to Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony, a pillar of the orchestral repertoire marked by the composer's relationship to his inevitable destiny. Here, Eun Sun Kim’s radical interpretation commanded a feeling of an inescapable destiny, to outpour too much would be impossible. This ruthless march to the abyss was emphasized by her gestures, projecting vertically with her balanced arms each pulsation bore an identical sweeping amplitude. We imagine that the musicians must feel at ease with such metrical constancy, especially in the face of their rapid preparation.
–Philippe Gueit, Destimed


“Magnificent musical values – a company debut of astonishing vibrancy and assurance…”

San Francisco Chronicle




“None of this, though, would matter so much or feel so theatrically heightened if not for the magnificent musical values on display from top to bottom. Presiding over everything, in a company debut of astonishing vibrancy and assurance, was conductor Eun Sun Kim, who drew glorious playing from the Opera Orchestra and paced every scene freely but precisely.”
–Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

“Holding it all together was the outstanding musical direction of Eun Sun Kim, who was at home not only with the score’s Wagnerian resonances but with Dvorak’s folk-inflected rhythmic energy, too. The orchestra’s vibrant responsiveness made Kim’s debut here a spectacular one for a company currently in search of a music director.”
–Thomas May, Musical America

“Conductor Eun Sun Kim made a significant company debut. The Korean maestra led an energized account of Dvorak’s masterful score, one that effectively integrated the composer’s indelible harmonies, folk effusions, poignant yearning and haunting resonance.”
–Georgia Rowe, Opera News

“In her San Francisco Opera debut, conductor Eun Sun Kim assuredly drew splendid playing from an ensemble that proved its versatility (the instrumentalists spent the prior night playing Baroque). She brought forward the music’s visceral quality laying deep under the folkloric connotations. More, she succeeded to balance Wagnerian-like statements with subtle invocations of Mendelssohnian delicacy.”

–Edward Sava-Segal, Bachtrack

“South Korean conductor Eun Sun Kim made her SFO debut with a detailed and beautifully paced interpretation of the lovely score. Dvorak must have been thinking of Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" for his passionate final duet between the Prince and Rusalka, and he was probably aiming for some Verdian flavor with scenes between the water nymph and her Water Goblin dad (think "Rigoletto") and appearances by the hideous witch Jezibaba ("Il Trovatore"). Regardless of theatrical influences, Eun Sun Kim underscored [Dvorak’s] unmistakable musical sound with sympathetic support from the orchestra.”
–Philip Campbell, Bay Area Reporter

“Conductor Eun Sun Kim made a gripping company debut, bringing out the Czech pulse and phrasing under a shiny surface of supple orchestral playing. The Korean-born artist maintained impeccable balances with all the singers and kept the score unfolding with a sense of inevitability. She wrangled the big cast into a cohesive, propulsive engine.”
–Harvey Steiman, Seen and Heard International

“Korean conductor Eun Sun Kim draws warm incisive playing from the orchestra, adding to the dramatic impact and underpinning the moving final scene…”

–Truman C. Wang, Classical Voice

“With its echoes of Czech folksongs, Dvořák’s romantic score is lush, accessible, frequently moving. The dependable San Francisco Opera orchestra, conducted by Eun Sun Kim in her company debut, outdoes itself, especially as the opera soars to its demonic climax.”

–Pamela Feinsilber, Theatrius

“South Korean conductor Eun Sun Kim made a strong impression with her company debut, leading a performance that was powerful and passionate. She coaxed glorious playing from the Orchestra…an auspicious debut for her, and the audience responded enthusiastically.”

–Michael Anthonio, Parterre Box

“South Korean conductor Maestra Eun Sun Kim presided over the musical performance. Her shimmering, beautifully contoured performance of the Dvorak’s melody-immersed operatic masterpiece, elicited a brilliant response from the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.”

–William Burnett, Opera Warhorses

“Conductor Eun Sun Kim drove the emotional flow, pulling the vibrant Dvorak colors from the triple winds of the opera orchestra, urging full-throated force from its strings.”

–Michael Milenski, Opera Today

“The Korean Eun Sun Kim, known to the Madrid public for being assistant to López Cobos and the first woman to conduct an opera at the Teatro Real, was also successful in her debut. She highlighted, in particular, a good dramatic pulse and led with confidence, using tempos that were personal but well chosen and precise. In short, a triumph for the SF Opera and for the music of Dvorák.”
–David Yllanes Mosquera, Codalario

“Making her SFO debut, Korean conductor Eun Sun Kim offered a sample of her talent with a lovely account of the Act 1 prelude, and then luminously proceeded through the rest of Dvorak’s score.”
–James Ambroff-Tahan, San Francisco Examiner

“Making her San Francisco Opera debut was South Korean conductor Eun Sun Kim, who presided over a wholly successful Rusalka.”

–James Roy MacBean, Berkeley Daily Planet

“The orchestra, under the direction of conductor Eun Sun Kim, was appropriately light and warmly lyrical at every turn.”
–Brian Holt, Out West Arts

“The pleasures kept coming. The driving force of it all was the music, with the excellent Eun Sun Kim, in her company debut, at the helm in the pit. From its dreamy orchestrations and piercing details to its lyrical effusions and soaring ensembles, Rusalka got all it deserved and then some in this darkly exhilarating conclusion of the SFO’s season.”
–Steven Winn, Opera Magazine

“Musically and vocally, too, it is carried off with highly impressive results. Within Dvořák’s lush orchestration there’s a whiff of Wagner, a sense of Strauss and a touch of Tchaikovsky among his influences and conductor Eun Sun Kim, in her company debut, captures the darkness, the gossamer-like, the bombastic and mystery of the score with elan.”

–Paul Selar, OperaChaser

“In this capacious and captivating production at the War Memorial Opera House, everything from the highly characterized singing to…the lush yet keenly honed reading of the score, under conductor Eun Sun Kim’s baton in her fine company debut, registers in a vividly visceral, emotionally penetrating way. Nothing feels or sounds gratuitous; just about everything, across three-and-a-half musically and dramatically absorbing hours, seems essential. The music has a cumulative force, culminating in a duet for Rusalka and the Prince of such excruciating tenderness and bone-deep truth that the Liebestod of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde can’t help but come to mind. Everything has amplitude and authority… Rusalka, the last and clearly best of the company’s three summer productions, is a triumph in all ways. This wonderfully wrought work, last seen her 24 years ago, has returned to the San Francisco Opera stage in a stirring, disturbing, exhilarating way, sure to etch itself in the audience’s memory.”
–Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice


“A deeply stirring performance. Kim brought gravitas and emotional power, making them absolutely soar.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem

“The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, led by guest conductor Eun Sun Kim and joined by baritone Stephen Powell and soprano Tara Erraught, gave a deeply stirring performance of Johannes Brahms’ “Ein deutsches Requiem” (“A German Requiem”) Friday evening in Uihlein Hall. Brahms’s Requiem is not based on the traditional Catholic Requiem Mass text, but is instead a personal, German-language statement of grief over the loss of his mother and his mentor and friend, Robert Schumann. Kim and the ensemble, which also included a pipe organ, brought gravitas and emotional power to the piece’s biggest moments, making them absolutely soar. But this was not a performance in which all energy was focused on the piece’s fullest sounds. Kim, along with the instrumentalists and singers, gave clear focus and meaning to the exquisitely warm, sighing viola, cello and bass blend and hushed choral sounds that open the piece, and to the rest of its many achingly introspective sections.Kim and the orchestra brought a seamlessly blended sound and lovely interpretive details to a musically sensitive rendering of Reinecke’s score.”
–Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performed this great work with enormous gravitas and precision under the skillful baton of guest conductor Eun Sun Kim. Kim is making a mark worldwide as an opera conductor (she was recently named Houston Grand Opera’s principal guest conductor—the first person to occupy such a position in 25 years). Her opera-conducting credentials certainly worked for the powerful German Requiem. The Chorus sang with great meticulousness, thrillingly so in work’s louder, more charged moments and tenderly so in its many serene ones. Vocal soloists Tara Erraught (soprano) and Stephen Powell (baritone) were in excellent voice, providing tender, personal moments to their parts.”
–John Jahn, Shepherd Express


Kim expertly balanced the forces in a sweeping and incandescent performance of Verdi’s Requiem.”

Cincinnati Business Courier


Cincinnati Symphony

Verdi Requiem

“That emotional moment began a masterful, 90-minute journey that was both deeply personal and terrifying in its power. Making her festival debut, guest conductor Eun Sun Kim, 37, expertly balanced the forces of the 120-voice May Festival Chorus, a quartet of superb soloists, trumpeters in the gallery and the full Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in a sweeping and incandescent performance of Verdi’s Requiem.

There is nothing like Verdi’s Requiem Mass, which is regarded as operatic and theatrical. Yet Kim offered a fresh approach that also illuminated the deep spirituality of the work. She allowed the music to breathe, and the effect was riveting. Seated behind the orchestra, the chorus has never sounded so refined. The atmosphere of the opening bars was other-worldly, yet diction was clear and precise. The Sanctus, a brilliant double fugue for chorus, was brightly executed. The ‘Dies Irae,’ with its spectacular pounding of the bass drum, was electrifying for its power and rage. Here, the choral sound was robust, with clipped enunciation, and the conductor led with driving tempos. Kim accompanied the soloists with complete flexibility, taking care to never overpower them.

On the podium, Kim was an inspiring leader with a commanding presence. Every gesture was clear and musical, and she propelled tempos to maximum dramatic effect. The orchestra performed magnificently, from the pianissimo (doubly soft) string tremolos in the ‘Offertorio’ to the heaven-rending ‘Dies Irae’.”
–Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Business Courier


“Remember this name: Eun Sun Kim. She’s a brilliant rising star in the conducting world. A maestra to watch…”

Cincinnati Business Courier


Opéra de Toulon

Le Nozze di Figaro

“At the head of the Toulon Opera Orchestra, the Korean conductor Eun Sun Kim finds, to support such an intensity, the right balance between the overflowing vitality of the sequences of this "crazy day" and the tranquility of the tempi necessary to the breathing of Mozartian polyphony.”
–Emmanuel Andrieu, Opera Online

“We had discovered Eun Sun Kim in Marseille, where she had replaced Lawrence Foster with an undeniable talent. It is a joy to note that from Verdi to Mozart she knows how to adapt and manages to mark her personal interpretation. The calibrated clarity of the opening seems to us a choice of caution that announces a very wise reading. This will indeed be the case, but the rhythmic precision and the work on the stamps will make the work so much as to make it the matrix of the next masterpiece, Don Giovanni. Never had we perceived so clearly that the Countess gathers in her Donna Anna and Donna Elvira, nor that the Count's violence will become that of Don Giovanni. The interpreters are certainly not strangers, but the impulse seems to come from the pit. The orchestra shows itself in its best light…”
–Maurice Salles, Forum Opera

"With a beautiful accord between the stage and the pit, the show was also well managed by the meticulous baton of Maestro Eun Sun Kim…who tempered the wildness of the chorus, playing with equilibrium and serving an elegant, minimalist approach.”

–Benito Pelegrin, Classique News


“Lithe and graceful in her movements, she is always in full command of the music…”

Calgary Herald


Calgary Philharmonic


“Leading the orchestra on this occasion was Eun Sun Kim, a conductor from South Korea with substantial training in Germany. Kim has risen rapidly to prominence in The United States, with highly regarded recent performances in Cincinnati and Dallas. Principally a conductor of opera at this point in her career, it was good to see and hear her in action in standard orchestral repertoire.

Lithe and graceful in her movements, she is always in full command of the music, her communication with the orchestra clear and precise, and with due attention to the shaping of the music. In general, her tempos, especially the concluding Dvorak Symphony No. 8, were on the fast side. This point alone forced the musicians to extra concentration to make sure they could deliver the notes. However, given the precision and ease in following her, the orchestra was able to respond as asked and played as a unified ensemble to a remarkable degree. Overall, this was an impressively cleanly-played concert.

Kim’s fleet approach to the music served the middle movements of the symphony (and also the opening Hebrides Overture by Mendelssohn) the best, underscoring its rhythmic urgency and forward movement. A special moment came during the delicious third movement of the Dvorak symphony, which with its melodic sweetness and charm held the audience suspended as if in a trance.”
–Kenneth Delong, Calgary Herald


“Eun Sun Kim and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra unleashed a formidable storm.”

Opera Now


Opernhaus Zürich


“I had not heard Korean conductor Eun Sun Kim before and she impressed. The overture was taken as fast as is humanly possible, but she was always sympathetic to her singers and the orchestra played well for her.”
–John Rhodes, Seen and Heard International

Bergen National Opera

Der Fliegende Höllander

“The chorus gave a rousing performance with plenty of individual detail to their behaviour on stage. The Bergen Philharmonic was on good form under Eun Sun Kim; one or two brass fluffs early on aside, there was plenty of colour…
–Dominic Lowe, Bachtrack

Musically, this is an excellent experience where the conductor Eun Sun Kim has a safe grip on Bergen's Philharmonic Orchestra and the performance-enhanced Edvard Grieg Choir.”
–Mogens H Andersson, Operalogg

"In the pit, conductor Eun Sun Kim and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra unleashed a formidable storm.”
Opera Now

“The conductor Eun Sun Kim was more concerned with a coherently and sympathetically paced narrative, and with giving the singers expressive space, than with whipping up overwhelming waves of sound…”
–Yehuda Shapiro, Opera


“A major star of La Traviata was Eun Sun Kim, who led the performance with great sensitivity and flexibility…”

The New York Times


Houston Grand Opera

La traviata

“The orchestra had to be shunted behind the stage, with the conductor facing away from the singers. Under these circumstances, a major star of La Traviata was Eun Sun Kim, a young Korean conductor making her North American debut, who led the performance with great sensitivity and flexibility as another conductor, Peter Pasztor, relayed her beat in front of the stage for crowd scenes. This notion of leading with your back to the stage ‘goes totally against everything you’re trying to do,’ said Mr. Summers, a veteran maestro who will himself conduct from the harpsichord in the imminent production of Handel’s “Julius Caesar,” which was in rehearsal on Thursday and Saturday. For all that, Ms. Kim did the job beautifully.”
–James R. Oestreich, The New York Times

“HGO’s La Traviata represents the American debut of Korean conductor Eun Sun Kim. Conducting the HGO Orchestra, located at the rear of the stage behind the singers and chorus, had its particular challenges, because conductors and opera singers expect to be facing each other in a normal performance. Yet, the outcome was a smoothly flowing performance, appropriately fast-paced, while showing sensitivity for Verdi’s melodic lines.”
–William Burnett, Opera Warhorses

““I can attest that the challenges of coordinating sound in different segments of a building are entirely real and necessitate the utmost concentration. Despite these challenges, the tempos were quite agreeably brisk and did not drag for an instant, thanks to the leadership of Maestro Eun Sun Kim. The new Resilience Theater forced the orchestra to achieve greater and fresher coloristic timbral variety than I have previously experienced when they perform works from the bel canto period. Nowhere was this better shown than in the prelude, where the solitary, exquisite muted violins gradually gave way to a fleshed-out, multi-colored string texture, leading to the main section of the movement, where violins, violas, and cellos were given plenty of room by warm winds and pizzicato basses to spin one of Verdi’s characteristic languorous tunes out of the purest silk.”

–Andrew Schneider, Schmopera

“HGO has managed something of a miracle in turning a convention hall into an opera theater to save their season, and while what they’ve tirelessly concocted will never match an actual theater in sound or ambiance, there are some unexpected bonuses to the space. The orchestra resides happily in plain sight behind a raised oval stage. And while this means that their sound, too, is often too muted, it offered the opportunity to see conductor Eun Sun Kim deftly preside over Verdi’s time-honored score. Though a few tempi lagged, Kim struck gold in the sentiment of it.”
–Sydney Boyd, Houstonia

“I was impressed that Eun Sun Kim's orchestra, projected forward by way of a curved plastic tarp, never dragged and was never buried by the vocalists in front. The chorus behind her knew to stay with, if slightly behind, the orchestra in terms of timing, so that the instruments' sound could catch up.”
–Wei-Huan Chen, Houston Chronicle

“At the stage’s rear, the HGO Orchestra brought glitter, crispness and clarity to Verdi’ s score. The cast and conductor Eun Sun Kim, a Korean making her North American debut, mainly relied on closed-circuit video monitors to keep track of one another. But even when Shagimuratova and Petean lingered over expressive turns of phrase, Kim kept the orchestra with them – no small feat.”
–Steven Brown, Texas Classical Review

“On October 22, La traviata was conducted by Eun Sun Kim who, in her North American debut, kept the score taut without slighting expressive expansion.”

–William Albright, Opera


“Beautifully flowing movements, clear decisive gestures… Kim’s performance was one of the night’s great successes…”

Seen and Heard International


Oper Frankfurt

La Sonnambula

“The orchestra and choir under the Korean conductor Eun Sun Kim conveyed the ease, the weightless swing and the dance-like carefreeness of the composition.”
–Christoph Schmitz, Deutschlandfunk

Fascinatingly transparent, precise and springy, Kim translated Bellini's score. Every little accompanying motif was clearly defined, nothing sounded vulgar or casual, the woodwind and horn solos were impressively beautiful. Eun Sun Kim even knew how to lead the choir safely; the choral parts, especially the elaborate ghost chorus of the first act, demand a lot of detail work.”
–Stefan Schicksals, Frankfurter Rundschau

Prudent and sensitive, the Korean Eun Sun Kim led a well-sung and ideally staged opera. Judging by the unbridled premiere applause Frankfurt has again a bestseller in the repertoire.”
–Klaus Ackermann, Offenbach-Post

“The Frankfurt Opera and Orchestra sounded like a different ensemble from the previous Wagner evening: they assumed the lighter classical Italianate harmonies sounding wholly differently, a result of the wonderful direction of the conductor, the young Korean Eun Sun Kim, who brought the whole performance together with her beautifully flowing movements, clear decisive gestures in the swift changes in tempi, maintaining the melodrama and momentum of Bellini’s score. Her performance was one of the night’s great successes; she has a fine sense of rhythm, marvelous judgment of the score and is a great prospect on the international concert and opera circuit. Overall this was a magnificent presentation of Bellini’s opera and fittingly shows off the world-class singing and performance standards of Frankfurt Opera.”
–Gregor Tassie, Seen and Heard International


“She kept the brilliance and momentum in Puccini’s score thrilling, while she made the soloists create several great emotional nuances…”

Opera Today


Den Norske Opera Oslo


“Conductor Eun Sun Kim set off the Prélude at a dizzying pace, the orchestra making a distinctly robust sound.”
–Aksel Tollali, Bachtrack

Staatsoper Berlin

Madama Butterfly

“Eun Sun Kim brought out all the colours and exotic spices in Puccini’s score. The Berliner Staatskapelle was in top shape. She kept the brilliance and momentum in Puccini’s score thrilling, while she made the soloists create several great emotional nuances. She cultivated the mood of American patriotism effectively, but also reflected the romantic anguish and despair at Cio-Cio-San’s death.”
–David Pinedo, Opera Today

Staatsoper Berlin

La traviata

“Eun Sun Kim was an interpretative conductor, cauterizing some of the orchestral lines to enhance the tension, particularly in the transportive “Addio del passato” in Act 3. Elsewhere she brought a gripping sense of drama in the unfolding of one of opera’s masterpieces.”
–Stephen Crowe, Bachtrack


“A wonderfully dramatic and involving account… of gradually building intense drama with a shattering climax.”

Planet Hugill


Oper Köln

Lucia di Lammermoor

“The Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne under the direction of Eun Sun Kim also ensures that the audience can indulge in great melodies on this football evening. So there is in the end frenetic applause for all involved…”
–Thomas Molke, Online Musik Magazin

Royal Swedish Opera Stockholm

Madama Butterfly

“Kim and the orchestra launched into a wonderfully dramatic and involving account of the prelude. I have to confess that in performances of Madama Butterfly there comes a point in the second act when I start to hanker for the more elegant conciseness of La Boheme, but in this performance thanks to the sheer beauty and intensity of Asmik Grigorian's Butterfly and Eun Sun Kim's conducting, this moment never appeared. Act two was one sustained piece of gradually building intense drama with a shattering climax. That Kristen Harms’ production made such a strong impression is partly due to the finely engrossing performances from the cast, with Eun Sun Kim giving great support from the orchestra. This meant that the shattering ending came as the real climax.”
–Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

Bergen National Opera

Madama Butterfly

“The conductor, Eun Sun Kim, chose to unfold the musical narrative in a relatively sober fashion rather than indulge in shock effects. The Bergen Philharmonic sounded glorious, and the cool, steady glow of the Humming Chorus was of almost transcendent beauty.”
–Yehuda Shapiro, Opera


Kim’s command of the material is complete and she draws characterful, idiomatic performances from all the principals.”

Opera Magazine


Volksoper Wien

Hänsel und Gretel

“Conductor Eun Sun Kim excellently promotes the romantic sounds of Humperdinck's score on the orchestra's podium and keeps the coordination between stage and pit with a sure hand.”
–Stefan Musil, Die Presse

Oper Frankfurt


“One does not need to love the colossal, chrome-glittering Kálmán sound of Christian Thielemann from Dresden, but the idiomatic interplay of the music showed much more than that with the well-controlled musicians of the orchestra under the direction of Eun Sun Kim.”
–Bernhard Unke, Frankfurter Rundschau

Oper Frankfurt

Der Graf von Luxembourg

Kim’s command of the material is complete and she draws characterful, idiomatic performances from all the principals.”
–Roger Pines, Opera

Opéra de Marseille

La traviata

“It was a sterling performance allowed by remarkable conducting, that of Stuttgart formed young Korean maestra Eun Sun Kim. The maestra is clearly of a new generation of conductors who feel tempos in a minimalist sense — slower macro-pulses offering sound spaces where immediate depths may be probed. Musical energy is discovered by the exploration of this microcosmos rather than in energy found by forcing brute speed and sudden braking. This musicianship allows for the lyric expansion inherent in bel canto and here it laid bare the roots of the mid-period Verdi in this rapidly disappearing style.”
–Michael Milenski, Opera Today